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A 142 Million Dollar Peek at Scorpio

I’ve always thought that the adage, “a picture’s worth a thousand words” was an understatement. That’s why I like to use the images of great works of art when I’m doing lectures about the meanings of the signs of the zodiac. One of the artists I use to illustrate Scorpio is Francis Bacon, whose portrait triptych of Lucien Freud recently sold for $142 million dollars. (Click here to see an image of these paintings.) (The painting to the left is titled Head IV.)

We do not know the birth time of Francis Bacon, but he was definitely born with the Sun in Scorpio. (Click here to see a chart for Francis Bacon done for noon.) Oddly enough, the Sun is the only astrological body Bacon has in the sign of Scorpio, which leads me to believe that Pluto is strongly placed in his “real” horoscope. Regardless, no artist in the modern era has expressed the soul of Scorpio better than Bacon.

Bacon didn’t paint portraits of his subject, he eviscerated them on canvas. He twisted bodies and faces, tore away flesh and distorted features. Bacon often placed his subjects alone in a broad field of color, creating a sense of isolation and alienation. In a Francis Bacon painting every human is adrift in an unfriendly universe, lonely, unloved and writhing in existential dread.

I know what you’re thinking: For THAT somebody paid $142 million dollars? Obviously, it is not very happy message, but sweetness and light are not in the Scorpio job description. Scorpio is here to give us the truth,  no matter how startling and painful it may be, and the most awful truth of all, the one we all harbor in some deep region of our consciousness, in the fear that we are lost and alone in the universe.

Why is it so important to face this truth, this fear? Because it is the fear that we are alone that is the impetus for every spiritual seeker.  The only cure for this fear is to find a power beyond ourselves, a power that can connect us to the universal consciousness.

This is the role Scorpio plays in our spiritual development. Scorpio brings us down to the basest level of existence. It gives us a perspective that is broad and, at the same time, terrifyingly specific. Then it challenges us to find a better way, to transform our fear into something productive and worthwhile, to rise out of the fiery pit of despair like the mythological phoenix and fly toward heaven.

Francis Bacon was a man who had spent some time in this pit. He knew something about being alone and fearful. And, as a Scorpio, he knew how basic this fear was to the human condition. That’s why his paintings tell us so much about the meaning of this sign.

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